Street Scene | Chicago Reader

Street Scene

A stunning film by King Vidor (1931), kept just this side of greatness by his reluctance to strike a proper balance between his central characters (Sylvia Sidney and William Collier) and the supporting cameos. In many ways, this screen translation of Elmer Rice's pivotal play about a young man's struggle to escape the constricting values and pressures of the tenements amounts to a generalized version of Vidor's The Crowd, with the tenement group itself taking on the character of Vidor's young couple in the earlier film; but what The Crowd has and Street Scene lacks is a firmly conceived sense of the interplay between individual needs and social framework. Still, it's worth more than one viewing. 80 min.

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